Gaining Momentum: Tahiti, Flying, and Fun!

The Now

Cap Capricorn crosses its name sake:   Around midnight last night we crossed the Tropic of Capricorn, the southern most ‘turning point’ for the sun’s north / south 12 o’ clock dead overhead journey. It’s always special for me: Yeah another human defined line, but sort of not so as Nature defines it!  That 23.3 degree line and its link to our Planet’s axis tilt, so critical for the whole balance and life as know it.

Full steam ahead. An ever changing sea and horizon as we spin past the sun!
Full steam ahead. An ever changing sea and horizon as we spin past the sun!

This crossing makes it my 9th surface crossing  and the 5th ocean crossing of the Tropic, the other four in yachts, and the land surface ones were a combination of bicycle, motorcycle and car.. There is something special travelling by surface…. And hmmm, there is something special with that high altitude view….. Will i ever see our planet from up there again????   Now that’s challenging my early day commitment!

The days are getting noticeably longer as my friends in NZ are seeing their days shorten with only a few more days for that longest night low point!

Other than moving the clock one hour forward last night, hardly another adjustment has been from the bridge!  It seems that Man has delivered a machine that completely takes in its stride Nature’s Grand Adventure. In their seeming randomness the planetary winds and currents now appear almost defeated and without purpose in this huge Pacific Ocean. Let the illusion continue…..

It’s just 340 nm to Papeete, Tahiti now. We’ll be docked for 18 hours, so it will be out with my bicycle and off to see what’s changed since June 2014!

From a pretty flat ocean flow of the past few days, within hours we will be going over another group of sea mounts. Just three this time, with the highest one rising 4000 metres from the sea floor below to be less than 300 m under us…. This one is seemingly a perfect steep conical volcano.

We should be there to meet the Pilot around sunrise tomorrow, and then I’ll watch with fascination as this huge ship is taken through the narrow 100metre wide and 12 metre deep natural channel to its berth inside the confines of Papeete’s compact natural harbour.

Masters, Mastery and Power

There are just two ‘able seamen’ on board: Raghu Komara from India, and Frenando Viray from the Philippines, both over fifty who have years of experience, and it will be up to one of them with the help of a tug to ‘drive’ the big ship into its berth. The officers almost certainly unable to do it as competently themselves, but knowing they have something other critical element to contribute will watch and critique his performance.

Planning for San Francisco. The chart of the harbour and Golden Gate Bridge. All happening on the navigation table on The Bridge.
Planning for San Francisco. The chart of the harbour and Golden Gate Bridge. All happening on the navigation table on The Bridge.

Mastery and Masters hey, who are the real Masters in this and where does the Real power lie? Oil Refineries ran the same way, but in the case of the solo adventurer this ‘Power structure’ doesn’t work. In my pursuit of intensity I have always strove to have the most mastery experience and perspectives of both masters. I sense this has helped me step up (or maybe down!!) to my solo pursuits!

Ah it’s so great to be able to reflect on the wonder of life and share with you out here:  The choices we make the ‘What’ they produce and the ‘Who’ they ‘find’?  What is life, other than a series of choices and adventures just hoping to be edging closer to mastering the understanding of what it is all about?   Ha-ha, those two hours of Fiona, just feeling playful and flippant..

Oh that reminds me:  All still going good with the plan from that last meeting with Me and Myself!

‘Useless’ facts from My Walkabouts

The Kiwi's Special Potatoes!
The Kiwi’s Special Potatoes!

1.      We have a large amount of fresh, openly sacked, New Zealand potatoes and onions on board! I wonder if it is a case of: “Shame on you Yanks, not being able to grow enough for yourselves!?” OR “Well done Kiwis for growing such special potatoes and onions that are in demand in America!

2.       It is possible to be a Captain of a ship like Cap Capricorn by the time you are 30!

3.      Twenty six year old Yangyan Liu, from China who I told you in the last blog showed me how he checks the refrigerated containers, is on board as a trainee officer, and is paid a mere USD700 a month as he works his butt off trying to prove his worthiness to be a fully commissioned 3rd Officer. With a rare, ever cheerful demeanour he is hopeful that this is his last trainee voyage, but realises that’s in his Masters’ hands.

4.     From full speed ahead to the quickest stopping:  It will take 7 minutes for the propeller to stop its forward rotation to then reverse direction and start its astern rotation!  It’s only at this point that it will start acting as a brake, and start slowing the ship down. ‘They’ couldn’t tell me exactly how long, but actually stopping is still another 10 minutes after the propeller has changed rotation. Quite a few miles would have been covered before stopping!  So don’t get in the way of one of these armoured vehicles!

I Fly, You Fly, We all Fly!  Just because the Crowd does it, does that mean it’s right?

It’s easy for ME to know why I am on this ship today, and seriously exploring the possibility of a ‘No Flying’ future:

All my life experiences to this decision to resist the wisdom of ‘The Crowd’ and go by ship are part of a rich and complex tapestry that has shaped my soul. Maybe my soul hasn’t been shaped:  Maybe the experiences were what I needed to find my way through The Crowd and back to belonging with my authentic human soul?

It’s feels like ‘a calling’: A feeling within that says this is the right thing to be doing. What I am struggling with on the ship is how to share that journey to this decision point with you in a way that’s entertaining and useful for you?   The Facts, the motives, the belief changes, etc but in your life context….

Sharing when ‘we’ all have had such different lives, experiences and I guess spiritual beliefs and human souls….? Or do we?

Maybe what’s good for my soul is good for your soul, and is good for all human souls, because that what being a full human is about? Having belonging with our soul which belongs to this planet??? All big questions, maybe simple answers and maybe I’m going where I shouldn’t…  Haha!

I sense many may have deleted my first One Point Zero e-letter the moment they saw it had a focus on Sustainability / No Flying adventure. Probably saying:  Howard’s lost it, I enjoyed his ‘real’ adventure blogs, but life is too short to worry about all this sustainability ‘crap’…”

That makes me real sad as they are probably the people I would like to ‘engage in debate’ as its’ not about sustainability it’s about us belonging together and to our Planet!

Rather than being down, I thought back to the past and the journey I have come on, and when I would have had the same reaction…?  That made me ask myself how and why I have changed, and what is it that is driving me to be seemingly going against the flow of society…?  Man that started a whole wonderful journey back to 1964 where my contact with passenger flying journey all began…..

Did you know that in the 24 hours since my last post more than 1400 passenger planes have crossed the North Atlantic, and in 1964 that number may have been one or two?

Being ‘just 59’ and youthful, some of you will be older than me, and some younger than me, hopefully some much younger than me….. I thought it would be interesting for ‘all of us’ to think back to our all very different ‘first ‘passenger aeroplane’ experiences?  Maybe someone was even born on a passenger flight or even conceived in the ‘mile high’ club, or had a mother who was/ is a commercial pilot! Move through your life from that first contact to reliving your experiences with aeroplanes and flying right up to today! I have found it quite moving for me already..!

This may help us see why we each have our unique views and beliefs on flying and the role it should or shouldn’t play in our lives today….

So there we go, while you start reflecting on your flying journey I’ll be writing mine for you to read in the next day or so!

In the meantime here are some articles and facts I have found interesting and that have shaped my thinking (I have taken the liberty and inserted ‘One Point Zero’ where I thought appropriate):

Flying in One Point Zero Context

Depending on whom you believe if you are an average person in a developed world country you are probably responsible for between 12 and 18 tonnes of Greenhouse gases a year.  (‘How to Live a Low Carbon Life’, by Chris Goodall.)

If you better understand the Global Footprint Network ( measurement for ecological sustainability this translates to ‘you’ needing about 5-7 Global Hectares of Planet today.

If you are part of The Elite, and an ‘average elitist’ then your footprint would almost certainly have figures some 2 -4 times of those above!  Many celebrities and entrenched icons of the High Life in their totally unrestrained lives would even be orders of magnitude above that.

Who knows, who cares, who should….????

Whether you take recently agreed Green House gas targets for developed countries, or use the Global Footprint Network (GFN) Earth Bio capacity determination, the average ‘allowance’ for each of us 7 Billion for a One Point Zero world, works out at around 3-4 tonnes per person per annum, or on a GFN basis an individual demand of only 1.8 Global Hectares.

Either way, a massive, more than 65%, reduction is required by Ms / Mr Average Citizen Developed Nation, and clearly multiples of 100%’s for those above average! Arguing about the single digits discrepancies in methodologies would be missing the point.

Where does Flying fit in?

Many reputable sources are in agreement that the carbon footprint for passenger flying is about 1 tonne per 5000 km flown economy class. There is almost unanimous agreement that this should be increased 2-3 time to take into account the Nitrous gas or Contrail impacts that relate specifically to high altitude air travel.

This all equates to flying from say London to NYC generating 2 -6 tonnes, or needing some 1.4 to 4.0 Global Hectares. In both cases this single flight pretty much uses ‘all or a lot more’ of our individual ‘allowances’.

But that’s just one flight I’m a Frequent Flyer?

A 6 June 2015 New York Times article by Josh Barro indicates that many Frequent Flyers are now being required to clock 25 000 miles a year to have the basic Frequent Class benefits, while the elite Diamond Class members are doing more than 125 000 miles a year to meet their class minimum. This means these people are ‘responsible’ for a huge 7 up to 35 tonnes a year, or needing from 4 to 24 Global Hectares each. This translates to them needing roughly 2 to 12 planets just to accommodate their Flying footprint! The further obvious and shocking truth is that Frequent Flyer programmes are effectively incentivising our more speedy self-destruction. Maybe in a One Point Zero World there will be a Frequent Non Flyer Programme…!

I have the facts for the Real Elite, and Real Celebrities, the ones who fly in their private jets, or Mr Trump’s ecological bill, flying in that huge Boeing practically alone?  The ecological cost is ginormous, and they can’t hide behind the Sin of The Crowd, below!

Does The ‘Sin of the Crowd’, eliminate the sin of the Individual?

Now in all this there is the obvious conclusion that if Howard decides to be ‘a good boy’ and not fly, someone else will fill the plane and so although Howard becomes a good boy, One Point Zero is no closer goal as that plane still takes off and its footprint doesn’t change. Yeah this is where selfless-ness or selfish-ness comes in, and more about that in posts to come. All I want you to know here and now is that I do understand this sneaky argument of hiding behind the Sin of the Crowd!

I’ll let George Monbiot ( give his view on this:

This huge discretionary ecological cost for of passenger flight in now broadly understood by almost everyone I meet. But it has had no impact whatever on their behaviour. When I challenge my friends about their planned weekend in Rome or their holiday in Florida, they respond with a strange, distant smile and avert their eyes. They just want to enjoy themselves. Who am I to spoil their fun? The moral dissonance is deafening.!

Howard adds:  If we all in the developed nations say it’s not for me to reduce, and the developing world develop to needing remotely what we demand / generate today I can’t help feel that Humanity as a collective and us developed nation citizens as individuals can only feel ashamed at our Success!

Excerpts from ‘How to live a Low Carbon Life’ by Chris Goodall

The growth of aviation is so clearly incompatible with a ‘One Point Zero’ goal that scientists working in this area simply cannot understand why the governments of the world are failing to hold back the growth.”

The UK’s Independent Advisor for The Sustainable Development Commission said way back in 2004:  Governments around the world have failed completely to confront the problem so far.” On the contrary they have done everything they can to encourage further growth in order to promote short term economic growth and development.”

Twelve year later that stats show…

Twelve year later the same statement still applies but the industry having averaged more than 5% pa growth over the period would be contributing a further 60% more to making Our One Point Zero Challenge more Challenging. (IATA; ICAO; Federal Aviation Administration © Statista 2015 Estimates)

Who is Flying and who is Responsible?

Excerpt from George Monbiot ( again:)

Despite the claims the companies make for the democratising effects of cheap travel, 75% of those who use budget airlines are in social classes A, B and C. People with second homes abroad take an average of six return flights a year, while people in classes D and E hardly fly at all: because they can’t afford the holidays, they are responsible for just 6% of flights. Most of the growth, the government envisages, will take place among the wealthiest 10%

Ok, well that’s been quite Fun….. Heavy Fun, but I found it Fun, and I hope you did…?

I’ll be back with my Flying Reflections in a few days…. In between a truly sustainable Tahitian bicycle excursion!


The ever changing trailing Pacific sky from 'My porthole'
The ever changing trailing Pacific sky from ‘My porthole’

One thought on “Gaining Momentum: Tahiti, Flying, and Fun!”

  1. Thanks Howard for the detailed and compelling statistics of flying on sustainability. I find anything you do to detail the “big ticket” items that we can, need to, and must begin to consider restricting personally, helpful. I need structure and a focus, one or two things I can focus on, otherwise the challenge seems hopeless and overwhelming, especially in view of our economic focus at a national and international level on continued consumerism.

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